The News – Afghan president to visit Pakistan on 27th

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will be visiting Islamabad on June 27 for a daylong trip.

Muhammad Saleh Zaafir

Islamabad Capital Territory – Pakistan, 05 June 2019. He has spoken of mending ties with Pakistan and given an undertaking to open a new chapter in Pakistan-Afghan relations.

Ashraf Ghani who has made the announcement in his Eidul Fitr message is coming to Pakistan when it has been complaining of presence of elements in the Afghan tribal areas who are bent on creating disturbance inside Pakistan.

Such elements are working at the behest of Indian terror sponsoring intelligence agency RAW.

Ashraf Ghani said he would visit Pakistan on June 27 to open a new chapter in his country’s relationship with its neighbour and mend ties that are often characterised by mistrust and tit-for-tat accusations.

According to wire reports, President Ashraf Ghani in his Eid message said he had agreed to the visit after his meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan last week on the fringes of OIC summit in Makkah.

“I hope the visit will be positive,” Ghani said.

During their meeting on the sidelines of the OIC summit, Prime Minister Imran and President Ghani exchanged views on bilateral relations and the Afghan peace process.

Prime Minister Imran had reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, according to a PM Office statement.

The prime minister also underlined Pakistan’s firm support to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for political settlement.

It is expected that the Afghan president will have an important meeting with Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa and will be guest at the banquet to be hosted by President Arif Alvi.

The visiting president will also meet President Alvi. President Ashraf Ghani will be heading a delegation consisting of stalwarts belonging to various Afghan outfits and organisations.

The sources said US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad’s shuttle diplomacy had also played an important role in paving way for the visit.

President Ashraf Ghani will also visit India next month, the sources added. – UK’s Sikh Service Organisation gets Queen’s Award for helping homeless people in Manchester

Sikh24 Editors

London – United Kingdom, 04 June 2019. The London based Sikh Service Organization (SSO), a leading organization providing food and clothing to homeless people in Manchester, was reportedly awarded with the Queen’s award for its volunteer service on June 2.

Sharing the development with media, the Investment Manager Pritpal Singh Makan said that the SSO provides food, clothing and assistance to homeless, needy and unfortunate people in Piccadilly Gardens of Central Manchester every Sunday. “In addition, it also works with many charitable organizations,” he added.

“SSO’s work has been noted by the local press to create a positive impact on life, which accounts for its increasing number of homelessness on Manchester streets,” informed Pritpal Singh Makan while adding that it has volunteers from all backgrounds and religions.

Announcing the list of awardees on June 2, the Department of Culture, Media & Sports said the award is the highest given to volunteer groups in the United Kingdom to recognize exceptional service within their communities.

UK’s Sikh Service Organization gets Queen’s Award for helping homeless people in Manchester

Gent Phoenixstraat – Gentbrugge Peter Benoitlaan – Gent-Sint-Pieters

Gent Phoenixstraat
VZW El-Albani
12 May 2019

Albanian Islamic Cultural Centre Ghent

Gentbrugge Peter Benoitlaan
13 May 2019

Inspired by South American art ?

Santo is a meeting point in Gentbrugge
Everybody welcome

16 May 2019

Do not board this train

I am waiting for the 08:57 to Mechelen

Train to Tongeren via Aalst, Aarschot and Hasselt

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Indian Express – SIT chargesheet into 2015 sacrilege: How Sukhbir Badal, Akshay Kumar and Dera Sacha Sauda came into play

The SIT alleged that actor Akshay Kumar arranged the meeting between the Dera chief and Sukhbir Badal, who is also the president of party which controls the SGPC, during latter’s visit to Mumbai in September 2015.

Kamaldeep Singh Brar

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 04 June 2019. The SIT has also attempted to establish the unsuccessful attempt of Punjab Police to prosecute Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim in a 2007 blasphemy case registered in Bathinda for hurting Sikh sentiments.

Punjab Police had filed cancellation report in case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim just three days before Punjab assembly elections in 2012, when Shiromani Akali Dal was in power. It was done with an eye on the votes of Dera supporters.

It then goes on to create a link between the incidents starting September 16, 2015 when Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh was allegedly invited by then Punjab CM (Parkash Singh Badal) at his home to hand over the alleged pardon letter sent by Gurmeet Ram Rahim for 2007 blasphemy.

The video statement of one of the then Talwandi Sabo Jathedars, Gurmukh Singh, was used to establish that meeting did take place.

After eight days, on September 24, 2015, Akal Takht granted pardon to Gurmeet Ram Rahim. Of the five Jathedars who granted, one, Iqbal Singh, told the SIT that the letter was edited to make it look like a pardon letter, and Sukhbir Badal wanted this pardon granted.

The SIT noted that the sacrilege at Bargari and Burj Jawaharsinghwala village had happened in the intervening night of September 24 and 25, 2015.

The charge sheet also mentions that as soon as the Akal Takht pardoned the dera head, his movie MSG-2 was released in Punjab on September 25 “under heavy police protection” followed by another controversial movie “Singh is Bling” on October 2, 2015 starring Akshay Kumar.

Sukhbir Badal was then the deputy CM and also held the home portfolio.

The pardon granted to Gurmeet Ram Rahim was revoked by the Akal Takht on September 16, 2015, two days after the police firing at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan in which two Sikhs were killed.

The SIT also highlighted the October 20, 2015 statement of then SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makar in which he had said,”The issue of pardon to Sirsa Dera chief on September 24 also contributes to the turmoil. I fail to understand why it was done in the most hurried way by the five head priests”.

The SIT alleged that actor Akshay Kumar arranged the meeting between the Dera chief and Sukhbir Badal, who is also the president of party which controls the SGPC, during latter’s visit to Mumbai in September 2015. “The the negotiation between Sukhbir Badal and the Dera head was not without a reason.

His own movie ‘Singh is Bling’ was questioned by Sikh masses on the point of hurting sentiments of the Sikh community. The movie of Akshay Kumar was also given go ahead and was released on October 2, 2015, one week after Sirsa Dera head’s movie MSG 2 was released,” reads the charge sheet. It has attached a copy of the approval granted by the SGPC to the movie ‘Singh is Bling’.

Akshay Kumar had earlier dismissed the allegations.

The SIT also noted that the SGPC spent Rs 36 lakh to advertise the pardon to Dera head and additional Rs 46.50 lakh to justify the pardon.

“As regards the plea taken by Sukhbir Badal that he was not in Punjab when incidents of police firing took place on October 14, 2015, it is nothing but an attempt to take a defence of alibi. The investigations suggest that he was aware of each and every development, which was taking place in Punjab. However the office of chief secretary has been requested to provide complete details in this regard,” the charge sheet reads.

“The police action in early morning of October 14 was totally unprovoked. This action, as per investigation, was an outcome of conspiracy between certain high-profile politicians and police officers of senior rank in connivance with head of Dera Sacha Sauda and his followers.

The investigation reveals in unambiguous terms the names of Umranangal, Saini, Mantar Brar, Prakash Badal, Sukhbir Badal,” the SIT said while pointing at the bigger conspiracy.

The Hindu – Post-poll survey: a mixed bag for BJP in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab

While the BJP swept Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir saw a split verdict and Punjab provided some comfort for the Congress

Sandeep Shastri

Srinagar/Chandigarh, 30 May 2019. Today we report on the smaller States and one Union Territory of north India, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Delhi. Except in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, this region saw an electoral landslide in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP achieved a 100% strike rate in these areas.

While the BJP repeated its 2014 performance in terms of seats in Himachal Pradesh and Delhi, it is important to note that it secured a much higher vote share and won by a much bigger margin than it did in 2014 in these States. Haryana is now an addition to the category of States where the BJP won all the seats.

In Jammu and Kashmir, there was a split verdict. The BJP won in Jammu, Udhampur and Ladakh, while the National Conference won in Anantnag, Baramulla and Srinagar. Punjab went against the trend in north India and provided some comfort for the Congress party.

Implications for State polls

The electoral contest in Delhi had garnered a lot of attention in view of the moves made by many non-BJP leaders to ensure a seat-sharing arrangement between the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Such an arrangement, it was felt, would prevent the split of the non-BJP vote. An alliance was not forged ultimately as both parties were unwilling to concede to each other’s demands.

The Congress wanted an exclusive seat-sharing arrangement for Delhi, while the AAP was in favour of a broader arrangement that included Punjab and Haryana. The BJP retained all seven seats in the capital by impressive margins of victory.

What is significant is that the Congress was able to push the AAP to a distant third position in the electoral battle. This will have important implications for next year’s Assembly election.

The BJP also achieved a clean sweep in Himachal Pradesh. The Modi factor and the Balakot strikes played an important role in the party’s success. Infighting in the Congress was a key factor that contributed to the party’s inability to open its account in the State. Himachal Pradesh was also witness to a dual pro-incumbency sentiment as the government in the State is also a BJP government.

Haryana saw one of the keenest electoral contests in this region. The BJP had the advantage of facing a divided Opposition. It launched an aggressive campaign focusing on the Prime Minister, the Balakot strikes and its own ‘idea of India’.

In the recent past, the BJP State government too had improved its image. This helped to boost its prospects. The Union Cabinet’s approval of 10% reservation for the economically backward in the general category also made a difference in attracting Jat votes. Haryana also saw a clean sweep by the BJP.

Some wins for the Opposition

Jammu and Kashmir saw distinct regions of the State voting differently. The BJP retained its monopoly in the Jammu and Ladakh regions. In the Kashmir Valley, the National Conference, which was in alliance with the Congress, was able to beat the challenge from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and win all the three seats.

This clear divide gains significance as the State prepares for Assembly polls. This trend indicates that it could well be a split verdict like the last time round.

In Punjab the Congress was able to win a majority of the seats, and double its 2014 tally. The National Democratic Alliance partners, the Akali Dal and the BJP, were able to win only four seats. The AAP was able to retain just one seat. The decline of this party is truly the story of this election as is the revival of the Congress’s fortunes in a Lok Sabha election from the State.

The NDA partners were unable to get their act together. The detailed article on Punjab makes the important point that the AAP vote has shifted to both the Akali Dal-BJP combine and the Congress.

While the Other Backward Classes Hindu vote has moved to the Congress, the upper caste Hindu vote has moved to the NDA alliance, more specifically the BJP. A segment of the Jat Sikh vote seems to have moved from the Akali Dal to the Congress.

The articles provided a detailed outline of the results in the five small States and one Union Territory of north India and reflect the diversity of trends in this region.

Sandeep Shastri is the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Jain University, Bengaluru, and the national co-ordinator of the Lokniti network